“I am convinced that nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people. At the end of the day, you bet on people, not on strategies.” —Lawrence Bossidy
Leadership in a successful kitchen and bath design firm means assembling the right team and guiding the team members to succeed in their roles.
A CEO doesn’t have to be the most intelligent person in the company, they only have to make great decisions! The right people can help you expand your business. As you make a move to bring people into your firm, take into account how and when to make the right hire.
CEO leadership duties
Consider the role of a classical orchestra conductor. The audience can see the conductor but not hear them. The conductor is the only person in the room that does not make a sound. Nor do conductors make any effort to explain themselves to anyone; there is simply a pre-organized communication between them and their orchestra. This tactic of leading is ideal for a CEO. A CEO’s communication should be swift, while the execution of their direction should be smooth and quick.
But what does a CEO really need to do to be a good leader? CEOs nowadays have changed their appearance and revolutionized their role. First and foremost, they’re effective recruiters.
This may sound strange because most of us want to inflate our sense of importance. Owners want to be accurately represented as being the center of an organization, and that should carry a great deal of respect. But is it really a strange representation?
After all, a CEO’s primary job is to bring the right people into the team. That’s all they need to do to be maximally effective. If they make the right hire, their life is easier because they’ve put the right people into play. If they hire poorly, their life is complicated because they’ve filled a position with the wrong person for the job. That’s when your company’s customer service, and then its reputation, falters.
What qualities do you want from your new hire?
While it’s a growing trend to issue personality tests during the hiring process, it’s far more important for you to understand what you seek in a new hire. There should be a comprehensive checklist of qualities and a procedure for testing them through interactions with you and your staff.
You may know off-hand if you want to pluck someone fresh out of school or hire someone with years of industry experience. There are good cases to bring either demographic to your team, so let’s consider what’s important in any candidate:
#1 Love – Make sure they love what they do. People who love what they do are dedicated to it. It matters so much less what they did in their previous position than if they are capable and will love the position they are applying to.
#2 Trust – You need to trust them. When you hire someone, you’re investing in the future of your company.
#3 Speed – How fast are they? Timeliness in delivering excellent service is everything in business. “Speed kills the competition,” said Jeff Bezos. Fast producers – when everything is said and done – translates to higher profit potential.
#4 Personal Development – Are they committed to learning? People who love what they do and love learning will continuously be challenged by their occupation. That means they are finding new things to do, ways to be more productive, and growing into new positions of greater responsibility.
Consider their DISC assessment results.
If you’ve got a candidate who has progressed past the initial interviews – you and your team love them – issue a DISC assessment to them to find out the kind of learning style they have.
SEN believes that high D and I styles generally make very good sales designers when coupled with C styles. Where D’s are outgoing and direct, I styles tend to be engaging, idea-driven, and people-oriented. DISC assessments will show you how people learn. They will greatly assist the communication that goes on in the office. They won’t tell you who will make a great sales designer. That comes down to the individual!
Don’t be the smartest person in the room—break the chain of bad hires.
It’s an old observation that good bosses hire down – namely – that A’s hire B’s, B’s hire C’s, and so forth. If there is a psychological reason behind this decision, perhaps CEOs feel they alone need to be the intellectual core of their company. Whatever the reasoning behind the practice of hiring down, it’s a narrow-minded, ego-driven move that could cripple a company. How will your firm grow if you keep adding lesser capable people to your staff?
Find people with GRIT.
Every candidate has a brain, a heart, and a means to execute their skills. Gritty people have passion, and they persevere. They seek feedback for improving themselves.
Have these questions in mind when interviewing candidates:
- Are they purposeful?
- What fascinates them?
- Do they have a growth mindset?
- Are they teachable?
- Are they motivated by learning and self-improvement?
When you have a sense of what drives your candidates, focus on answering the following three core questions as you consider bringing somebody into your team.
- How well will the candidate be able to do the job?
- Will they fit our company culture?
- Will we fit in their life?
Why would you want to hire “someone great at everything” for a specialist position?
Hiring well takes time. Think 30 days from the first interview to the decision. Hire slow to get the right person in the role. The difference between an average and top performer is 67% of the bottom line!
Ask actionable questions of their previous employers, such as: “what are their strengths and weaknesses?” You want to know what to expect from a candidate if they are on your payroll. It’s much more important to understand how they would respond in given situations than it is to know if their former employer would hire them back or not.
Avoid rash judgments.
We tend to make up our minds about a person within the first five minutes of meeting them. Then spend the rest of our time during the interview trying to prove that we’re right in our judgment about them. Pay attention to how your candidates answer the questions they’re asked and far less to how they speak or how they do things.
Get your staff involved in the hiring process.
As you reach the shortlist of candidates, bring your staffers into the interview process. Have them challenge your candidates. As a leader, you have to make decisions that are best for your team. The right hire may or may not be the candidate who agrees with you the most. If your team loves someone for the energy and talent that they would bring into your firm, it tells you a great deal more about your company’s future than whether or not you think they are the best.
If they reached your short list of candidates, your team’s opinion of them is probably more important than your own!
Is your firm ready to hire another sales designer?
Adding a new sales designer does not automatically translate into additional profit for your bottom line.
Consider that the more projects sold correlate to a greater cost of goods (COGS), leading to many mistakes in the ordering and installation stages. Many kitchen and bath firms discover the hard way that their gross margins frequently fall as their sales increase.
Kitchen and bath design firms who hire too quickly often find themselves in a bad position. Usually, that bad position means the team is working harder to produce more sales, plus the quality of your company’s customer service is tanking, while the owner isn’t getting any more personal income out of their business.
Experienced salespeople are frequently not as productive as expected. They come with baggage. Rather than adopting your company’s ways and fitting into its culture, they may carry the baggage of the company they are coming from.
They may have produced great numbers at their previous firm, but under what gross margins did they perform? It’s much easier to sell a big volume at low markups.
If you are considering bringing a CMKBD into your firm, ask to see proof of sales volume produced. Compare this with their proof of gross margins regularly achieved and income earned to have a sharper idea of how they would perform in your firm.
Checklist of new hire needs—readiness test
Before you bring another sales designer onto your team, take a look at the SEN checklist of questions to help you decide if the time is right to do so:
- Do you have the leads to support another Sales Designer (at least 10-12 per month)?
- To furnish capital for the sales expansion, is your firm in a position to raise its price formula multipliers by 3-5%?
- Are there new markets that can be entered, both of a product or geographic nature, to support the sales expansion?
- Do you have a design assistant to do the CAD drawings, cabinet estimating, cabinet acknowledgments, and job site binders, so the sales designer can maximize their time selling?
- Do you have an experienced project manager to check orders, buy materials, schedule jobs, coordinate deliveries, and manage the trades onsite?
- Is your commission system in place, efficiently run, accurate, and on time?
- Are you prepared to spend $15-$20,000 in three months to train your new hire, plus make additional investments in industry-related training schools while hoping to earn a minimum 25% rate of return?
- Are you willing to give up free time, and sales floor time, for on-the-job training and ongoing sales management? Or do you have someone to train the new hire for you?
- Are you prepared to stand behind your new hire in the wake of freshman errors, and strain on your customer service team while the newbie learns the ropes?
If nine of your answers to this questionnaire are “yes,” then you may be indeed ready to commence recruitment! If you score less than 90%, then SEN recommends not hiring a salesperson at this time.
Keep learning how to grow your operation with SEN Business School
Join us this November 8-11, where the next SEN Executive Business School is happening at theMART in Chicago!
After attending this upcoming SEN School, among many other advances, you will be able to earn up to 40% more per job!
By attending this four-day program, you will add the following to your knowledge bank:
- How to create the correct price formula for securing a 10% company net profit
- Where to invest in your business to earn the biggest returns
- How to present the shock-proof method of price presentation so you can charge more for your projects in support of earning the desired 10% pre-tax net profit SEN advocates
The SEN Design Group is the only industry-specific resource that teaches how the three key disciplines of finance, marketing, and sales are to be integrated and mastered. As a result, the positive impact on your business’s bottom line gets amplified many times over.
Visit our events calendar for more information about what’s coming up next at SEN!
If you are a business owner, partner, or general manager who is truly serious about scaling your kitchen and bath design operations – with satellite showrooms, for example — the SEN Executive Business School is for you!
Contact Skyler Ille to register for November!